A CHIRK man has been crowned Slimming World’s Man of the Year in his local Slimming group.

Chris Ackerman dropped six stone, bringing his weight down from 22 stone to 16 stone since joining the group in October 2019.

He was named slimmer of the year in the first ever virtual competition Slimming World has held in its 50-year history.

Chris says his progress throughout his weight loss journey has boosted his confidence and has turned out to be a benefit in many aspects of his life.

He said: “Deep down I’d been unhappy with my weight for some time but it took me a long time to face up to it.

“And then when I did admit to myself that I wanted to lose weight I still didn’t want to ask for help.

“My wife Donna suggested we try Slimming World and after exchanging messages with Emma, the group's consultant, we decided to give it a go.

“We’re so glad we did. I’ve realised now though that far from being weak, asking for help takes strength of character and getting support to make changes has given me a sense of confidence that benefitted every aspect of my life.

“My wife and I did this together and she is also less than a stone from achieving her target after losing more than three-and-a-half stone too.

“It was nerve-wracking walking through those doors for the first time but I wasn’t the only man there and the group immediately put me at ease, everyone was so supportive.”

Celebrations for Chris would have taken place on a celebratory evening under normal circumstances, but this time, the celebrations had to be held online as part of the group’s new temporary virtual service.

Slimming World introduced its new temporary virtual service in March, after announcing it was temporarily suspending local groups in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Chris had more reason to celebrate this week too, as he became a free lifetime member after achieving his weight loss target.

He added: “[The virtual group] been a real lifeline in helping me to hang on to those healthy habits I’ve built over the last eight months and now I feel certain that – with the support of my group – I can manage my weight whatever life throws at me.

“I always come away feeling just as inspired and motivated to keep going each week, and love sharing new recipe ideas with my friends in the group.

“One thing I’ve always loved about the food optimising plan is just how flexible it is. I love the variety of foods I can still enjoy such as steak and homemade chips, chicken curry or a roast dinner.

“Nothing is off limits – I can still enjoy a pint of beer if I choose to.

“My wife and I have picked up loads more new recipes while attending my virtual group too – we eat a better variety of food now than we did before.”

Emma Thompstone, who runs the Chirk and Oswestry Memorial Hall Slimming World groups, feels incredibly proud of Chris.

She said: “He has done brilliantly and we’re all in awe of his transformation. While so much has changed in the last few months his determination and motivation has remained the same – he’s a real inspiration to the group.

“His wife Donna has become a whizz in the kitchen and every week the group loves to hear about what they’re cooking up. I couldn’t be prouder of everything they’ve both achieved.”

The national title winner for Slimming World’s Man of the Year 2020 competition will announced in the coming months, with a £4,000 cash prize.